What is the difference between an ethical clothing brand and a sustainable clothing brand? - culthread

What is the difference between an ethical clothing brand and a sustainable clothing brand?

The word sustainable gets thrown around more and more, one could say it’s become the main buzzword of the last few years. As a result, the meaning of the word has become diluted; we’ve seen fast fashion brands bring out ‘sustainable edits’, which feature a few tees made of recycled materials, in a sea of non-recyclable new polyester garments.


Sustainable fashion 

So what does ‘sustainable’ really mean in the fashion industry, and how does this differ from ethical fashion? 

Our friends over at Good On You (who have given us their highest rating for sustainability) say: “Strictly speaking, sustainability means maintaining an ecological balance by avoiding the depletion of natural resources.” 

We’ve found that there tends to be a lot of misinformation that sustainability revolves solely around the environment. Whilst the environment is of course a huge factor, we must also consider the social and economic side of things. It is essential to create a balance between these systems that can be maintained for the long term. At the end of the day, longevity and sustainability go hand-in-hand. When it comes to sustainable fashion, it is essential that we take a long term approach not only to the design, but the manufacturing and consumption of clothes. Our aim is to do good and create positive change, and ultimately avoid any harm whether this be towards the planet, people or animals. 


ethical clothing brand sustainable fashion


Ethical fashion

When it comes to ethical fashion, on the other hand, the difference between the two may not be as big as you originally thought. In fact, the two terms (ethical and sustainable) are often used interchangeably. Some people, however, do tend to think more about what is ‘morally correct’ in terms of the treatment of both humans and animals when it comes to ethical fashion. From healthy working conditions and living wages to animal welfare and veganism. In this sense it is understandable why the line between sustainable and ethical can become blurred, as both concern social, economic and environmental factors. Despite the latter often being ignored in the ethical sense. Good On You have made a great point when saying that “ignoring the ethical dimensions of catastrophic environmental challenges, like the impact of climate change or the destruction of freshwater sources on humans and animals wouldn't really make sense!”. 


Being an ethical and sustainable clothing brand

That being said, when it comes to ethical and sustainable fashion, at culthread we hold both values in extremely high regard. As a slow fashion brand, our overriding goal is to make quality pieces that you will want to wear and treasure forever. To emphasise the importance of our values as an ethical and sustainable fashion brand, we created what we like to call the ‘Cultruth Scale’. At present, there is no universally recognised global measure or tool for consumers to use to evaluate a product and a brand’s commitment to the planet, people and animals. This is why we developed the Cultruth Scale, to clearly display the impact each individual product has and the efforts we have made to be as ethical and sustainable as possible. Our end goal is to reach 100% on the scale for all culthreads as soon as possible and we are continuously making every effort to achieve this.

Unfortunately, not every brand has a scale like this available. So, how can you tell if a brand is truly sustainable and/or ethical? 

Terms like ‘sustainable fashion’, ‘ethical clothing’,’ eco friendly’ and ‘slow fashion’ are thrown around a lot lately, so it can often be difficult to differentiate between the real and the fake. Those that are truly sustainable and those that are simply greenwashing. To learn more about how to spot and avoid greenwashing head over to our blog: ‘What is greenwashing?’.

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